AT LEAST two gunmen took part in the ambush of a well-known Hmong leader and his family on Tuesday evening, evidence has suggested.
The attack seriously injured Thaweesak Yodmaneebanphot, president of the Hmong Club of Thailand and the kamnan of Tambon Por in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Kaen district, and his three-year-old son. His wife and their five-year-old daughter were killed.
Police yesterday found spent casings of at least two types of gun: an AK47 assault rifle and a shotgun. According to the ongoing police investigation, Thaweesak was heading back home with his family when someone opened fire on their pickup at about 5pm on Tuesday.
The shooting happened on Ban Rom Fah Thong-Ban Pha Tung Road in Ban Rom Fah Thong village in Tambon Por of Wiang Kaen district – just four or five kilometres from Thaweesak’s home.
Police believed the attack was well planned, as the gunmen apparently surveyed the landscape before choosing their shooting angle. Several footprints were found at the scene.
A policeman familiar with the investigation said the attackers must have chosen to hide behind large trees on a hill.
“We have not yet spoken to the surviving victims. They are still being treated at a hospital,” Chiang Rai deputy police chief, Pol Colonel Pasawee Chotethianchaiwat, said. Thaweesak is a prominent local leader in the border zone between Thailand and Laos.
He has long spoken up for the rights to land for the landless locals in Wiang Kaen and Thoeng districts. He has also fought against investors’ encroachment on forestland.
He has also organised several activities for Hmong people to strengthen and empower them.